Juan Mata’s master class in Manchester United’s 4-0 triumph over Newcastle at St James’ Park on Saturday could spell more trouble for injured forward Robin Van Persie.
The Dutchman, ruled out for six weeks with a knee injury last month, has watched United relieve some of the pressure on manager David Moyes with wins over West Ham, Aston Villa and Newcastle whilst also watching their resilient 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
Mata missed the latter and will miss Wednesday’s reverse fixture due to being ineligible, having featured for former club Chelsea in the tournament earlier in the season.
However, there can be no denying the fact the Spaniard has thrived in Van Persie’s absence, with Wayne Rooney playing further up the field enabling Mata to play in his favoured position behind the striker.
On Saturday he was incontainable, touching the ball 85 times and being involved in three of the four goals, scoring twice and providing the assist with an immaculate back-heel for Adnan Januzaj to add the fourth of the afternoon.
Rooney too has blossomed in the role of central striker, and has scored four goals in his last four games.
The injury to Van Persie has also granted more opportunities to Shinji Kagawa and Javier Hernandez, two players adored by the fans yet facing uncertain futures in the face of the summer clear-out Moyes is set to enforce at the end of the season.
Van Persie himself recently committed his future to the club in an interview for the club website, but the relationship between himself and his manager has said to have been on the rocks for some time, with a return to Arsenal or move overseas widely mooted in the national press.
But with Mata and Rooney showing signs of a perfect partnership, this may be Van Persie’s last season at the club whether he likes it or not.
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